Jeremy Corbyn vows to help football fans tackle 'bad owners' as he takes aim at Newcastle's Mike Ashley

Posted On: 
6th October 2019

Labour would hand football fans the power to challenge "bad owners" like Newcastle United's Mike Ashley, Jeremy Corbyn has announced.

Jeremy Corbyn heading a football.
Credit: 
PA

In a direct attack on the Sports Direct founder, who owns Newcastle United, the Labour leader accused Mr Ashley of trying to "marginalise supporters".

And he unveiled a raft of Labour policies aimed at boosting the representation of fans at decision-making level in clubs.

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Mr Ashley's time as Newcastle United owner has been controversial with some fans, who have chosen to boycott the club over what they see as high ticket prices and underinvestment in its stadium and squad.

Mr Corbyn - who met Newcastle fans campaigning against Mr Ashley this weekend - announced that, if Labour wins the next election, new rules would allow supporters' trusts to buy shares when clubs change hands.

Fans will be given the chance to "appoint, and fire, at least two members of a club’s board of directors", the party said.

The Labour leader said: "A football club is more than just a club, it is an institution at the heart of our communities. Clubs are part of the social fabric that binds us together.

“They are too important to be left in the hands of bad owners like Mike Ashley who put their business interests ahead of everything else, marginalise supporters and even put the financial security of clubs at risk."

Labour has promised a review of "fan participation in sports governance at all levels", and has already unveiled plans to make the Premier League reinvest five percent of its income from television rights into grassroots football.

The party's 'community organising unit' is currently advising Newcastle fans as they organise protests against Mr Ashley.

Mr Corbyn added: "Sport must be run in the interests of those who participate in it, follow it and love it, not just for the privileged and wealthy few. We will ensure that supporters have a say over how their club is run and review how fans can have more of a say about how all of our sporting bodies are run.

"Under a Labour government the Premier League riches will be used to invest in grassroots football for the good of all our communities, fans will be protected from rip-off online ticket touts and staff who work at football clubs will get security and a living wage."

The Labour leader's attack on Mr Ashley is not the first time the retail tycoon has come under fire from the party.

Speaking ahead of the 2017 general election, Mr Corbyn singled out the Sports Direct boss, saying he should be "worried" about a Labour government.